Wednesday, November 3

How an Economy Grows - George F. Smith

How an Economy Grows - George F. Smith - Mises Daily

Since World War II, most economists have been apologists for government growth. Now the "experts" who never see a crisis coming tell us that we must once again abandon free-market principles to save the free-market system.

But there's always the possibility that people not seated at the government's table will finally wise up. Who or what could help them understand what's going on? People need someone to draw a clear picture of what makes an economy thrive — briefly, without jargon, and, most importantly for today's readers, in an entertaining fashion.

Going Hungry for a Day to Eat Better Later

A strong candidate for this task is Peter Schiff and his illustrated book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes, which he coauthored with his brother, Andrew Schiff. Other elementary texts will continue to be effective in conveying economic basics, but the Schiffs have a story to tell, an extension of a tale first developed by their father, Irwin Schiff. There's nothing quite like a story to get people turning the pages. And in this case, the story is made more enjoyable by the creative work of illustrator Brendan Leach.

The authors waste no time getting to the root of economic growth. In the opening chapter, we find three men on an island — Able, Baker, and Charlie — fishing by hand, catching one fish per day each, enough to sustain them until the following day when they head into the surf again. Able gets an idea for an invention that might enable him to catch more than one fish, but when will he have time to build it? He spends all his waking hours working. Nor has he any assurance his invention will work.

One day Able decides to take a chance. He tells the others he will forego fishing for a day to fashion a device he calls a net. They tell him he's crazy, but he goes hungry and succeeds. Using his net, he's able to catch two fish a day, saving one and eating the other. This allows him to spend half as much time fishing and more time working on other ways to improve his life. (In this story, fish don't spoil.)

Schiff augments this narrative with the first of many sidebars he calls a Reality Check. In this one, he points out that Able, in progressing beyond hand-to-mouth existence, was underconsuming and taking a risk.

At the end of this and every other chapter he has a section called Takeaway. What lesson should the reader take from the opening chapter? "By using our natural faculties we can create tools to improve our lives … and to create an economy." No tools, no economy.

Not surprisingly, the other two men want nets but are unwilling to go hungry while they build them. They ask to borrow Able's net on days when he isn't using it. He turns them down. They ask him to loan them fish while they build their nets. He tells them he has no assurance they will succeed. Finally, they propose to borrow fish and pay him back at interest — for every fish he lends them they will pay him back two. If they succeed, everyone will profit. Able accepts their proposal.

The men build their nets, and their economy grows from three fish a day to six, a 100 percent increase.

In another Reality Check, Schiff points out that "the economy didn't grow because they consumed more. They consumed more because the economy grew."

From Barter to Money

As their savings grow, they have more time to undertake other projects. They pool their savings and build a trap that catches 30 fish a week. They never have to fish again. Able starts a clothing company. Baker builds a canoe and a cart, while Charlie constructs a surfboard.

Savings, ingenuity, hard work, risk taking, and prudent lending move the economy upward. The island's prosperity attracts and is able to support immigrants seeking a better life. Some of them borrow fish to clear land for farming. People start offering services, such as cooking and fish-trap maintenance. The economy becomes more diversified.

And as it does, they discover they need a better way to trade their goods or services. A spear maker may want the services of a chef, but the chef may not want any spears. What they need is something that can be traded for anything and that is acceptable to everyone. They need money.

They settle on fish. Not only do fish serve to facilitate trade, they can also be saved for old age and emergencies. Money also allows people to specialize in what they do best. Duffy, for example, can build a canoe with eight fish in savings rather than the ten fish that others require. By charging nine fish per canoe, he makes a profit and his customers save money. Over time, Duffy buys specialty tools with his savings that allow him to build a canoe with only four fish. Duffy doubles his production, and by charging six fish, doubles his profit margin and sells canoes at a more affordable price (six fish instead of nine). A luxury becomes an everyday commodity.

As productivity increased, prices fell, benefiting the producer as well as his customers. Falling prices induce people to save, which swells the amount of capital available for loans. The Keynesian fear of falling prices was yet unknown.

A Middleman between Saver and Borrower

Not everyone on the island is willing to work for a better life. Some of them turn to stealing fish. Seeing an opportunity, an entrepreneur named Max Goodbank decides to open a bank and charge a storage fee for safeguarding people's savings.

With profits scarce from such a service, Max decides to loan out the savings. To entice people to deposit their fish he pays them interest. He charges borrowers a higher rate of interest so he can pay his expenses and earn a profit. Max calls his enterprise the Goodbank Savings and Loan.
"We can either return to gold or we can pursue the fiat path and return to barter."
Murray Rothbard

Max knows that a prosperous economy would increase fish deposits. Interest on loans would then drop, but so would interest paid to depositors. As savings diminished, Max would charge borrowers a higher interest rate. He would also pay depositors a higher rate to encourage more savings, and eventually the loan rate would come down.

The safety and convenience of the bank attracts depositors, and Max is able to finance a huge waterworks project to bring water inland. New pipelines mean previously infertile land can be made into productive farmland. The steady flow of water can be used to harness machines, giving birth to new industries.

The Birth of Government

To settle disagreements and protect themselves from violence, the islanders decide to form a limited government. They elect 12 senators and a senator-in-chief with executive authority. The senate would create a court system to settle disputes and a police squad to enforce the decrees of judges. It would also create and regulate a navy of spear-packing war canoes.

The islanders agree to pay a yearly fish tax to finance the government. To keep the government confined to its assigned responsibilities, they draft a constitution to spell out what it can and cannot do. The constitution protects people from the government and protects minorities from the tyrannies of majorities.

It is widely understood that government could only function because it taxed producers. Government spending therefore was really taxpayer spending, and only taxpayers could vote. The new country is called Usonia.

As generations pass, the island's economy continues to flourish. Then one day some creative senators decide the original constitution was undemocratic in allowing only taxpayer suffrage. The restriction is removed, and on election day the polls are crowded with people who don't care much for government austerity.

The Birth of the Free Lunch

It isn't long before an ambitious senator named Franky Deep comes along with a radical idea. Franky loves power, and the way to get it in politics is to promise voters free stuff. But how could he carry it off? Government can only give by first taking.

After breezing into office as senator-in-chief, he comes up with an idea for giving away more than government has. To pay for his spending plans, Franky decides to issue government paper money — Fish Reserve Notes — that can be redeemed for actual fish stored at the Goodbank. Citizens could now use either the fish or the notes in trade.

The island's chief judge points out that the Constitution didn't authorize Franky to issue paper notes for fish. Franky solves the problem by firing the judge. In his place he puts one of his political buddies, who views the Constitution as "a living document" subject to reinterpretation at the discretion of the chief judge.

Though uncomfortable with paper money at first, the citizens begin to like it because it is more convenient to carry. Those who redeem their notes for fish suspect they are not as big as the original fish deposited, but comparing them is outlawed, so no one knows for sure.

With a more progressive judge in office, Franky's people find more spending projects for the government to undertake. All they need is enough support from potential voters. The new notes were the miracle solution.
"Once the savers on the island realize that there is really no safety in bank deposits, they'll stop saving! … Our whole economy could collapse!"
Max Goodbank VII

Taxpayers are pleased because the spending doesn't require tax hikes, progressives love it because government is showing it "cares," and politicians feel relieved because they don't have to balance their budgets. The only potential problem is economists, who might see the subtle theft taking place, but that is solved by cutting them in on the deal with research grants and jobs.

Eventually, bank president Max Goodbank VII starts making noise about government legerdemain. Franky replaces him with Ally Greenfin, and Goodbank Savings and Loan becomes the Fish Reserve Bank. The modern world is born.

The Fate of Usonia

The Schiffs are only getting started, and to see how the former laissez-faire economy of Usonia ends up you will find no better source than the book itself. Though the story illustrates critical economic fundamentals, the authors carry it off with elegant infusions of humor. Some examples: Franky Deep, Jim W. Bass, and Barry Ocuda as chief executives, the "Carp for Carts" program, Finnie Mae and Fishy Mac, Hank Plankton as the head fish accountant, and my favorite, Brent Barnacle, who becomes Ally Greenfin's replacement and promises to drop notes from palm trees if needed. Peter Schiff even pokes fun at himself, making reference to Piker Skiff, TV's comic relief man, who warns of the pending hut collapse.

The Schiffs add a touch of satire when Barnacle tells a conference that Usonia's policy of sending Fish Reserve Notes to the island of Sinopia in exchange for fish and goods is merely the latest development in economic specialization. With their voracious appetites, Usonians "had a comparative advantage in consuming," while Sinopians were tops in the areas of savings and manufacturing things.

Many otherwise-good stories founder with forgettable endings. But I suspect the final two lines of this story will stay with you forever.

Given the critical role of money in an economy, including the economy of Usonia, I would've preferred to see a more detailed development of how the island economy moved from barter to money. The authors tell us on page 52 that because "everyone on this island ate fish, it was decided that fish would serve as money." Though I'm aware of the authors' free-market convictions, the wording left me wondering if the decision was done by a committee rather than the market.

People who find anything related to economics tedious will find the Schiff book an exciting discovery. It should have special appeal to Austrians at all levels of expertise, while the Keynesian wizards who laughed at Peter Schiff when he predicted the housing collapse will likely disdain it.

It might be the only economics book ever written that could be read aloud to one's family without putting them to sleep. The narrative never once lags or becomes academic. The authors manage to convey the critical concepts without straying from their "Connecticut straight-talk" approach.

The Schiffs' tale of Usonia would make an excellent text for a "pre-economics" course, as a way of burning in the basics and of showing how they apply to the US history of the past 100 years. Precalculus is a requirement for premed, as one of my daughters has discovered. A "pre-econ" class featuring How an Economy Works and Why It Crashes would make it clear how government interventions operate in diametric opposition to the medical principle of primum non nocere ("first, do no harm"), with predictable results.

The Schiffs have hit one out of the park. I'm already introducing parts of their book to my five-year-old grandson — who enjoys fishing.

George F. Smith is the author of The Flight of the Barbarous Relic, a novel about a renegade Fed chairman, and Eyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, a script about Paine's impact on the early stages of the Revolution. Visit his website. Send him mail. See George F. Smith's article archives.

Wednesday, September 1

Education secretary urged his employees to attend Sharpton's rally

Yet another reason that the Federal Department of Education needs to be eliminated and those powers returned back to the states. Like these people had nothing better to do with the innumerable problems with education in this country.
President Obama's top education official urged government employees to attend a rally that the Rev. Al Sharpton organized to counter a larger conservative event on the Mall.

"ED staff are invited to join Secretary Arne Duncan, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other leaders on Saturday, Aug. 28, for the 'Reclaim the Dream' rally and march," began an internal e-mail sent to more than 4,000 employees of the Department of Education on Wednesday.

Read more at the Washington Examiner

Tuesday, August 31

AP-GfK Poll: Most attuned voters tilt toward GOP

Huh, no surprise here.
Congressional races often turn on local concerns and the candidates' character, factors that may yet sway many races this year. But many analysts think the public's widely sour mood — just 35 percent in the AP-GfK poll said the country is headed in the right direction — means this year's campaigns could be widely influenced by national issues, especially the economy.

"The economy is poor, we're muddling through in Afghanistan, we're not making much progress in the war on terror," said Paul Goren, a University of Minnesota political scientist who studies voting behavior. "Every once in a while national issues can intrude. It looks like there's a good chance this will be one of those elections."
The vast majority of this poll is no surprise. Educated Republicans were not the ones looking for television cameras on election day in 2008 talking about Obama paying their mortgages, car payments and filling up their cars with gas.

Friday, August 27

Sylvia Spivey - For Texas House Representative District 137

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Monday, August 23

Little-known fact: Obama's failed stimulus program cost more than the Iraq war

I'm sure the Obama Regime wasn't expecting this.

Expect to hear a lot about how much the Iraq war cost in the days ahead from Democrats worried about voter wrath against their unprecedented spending excesses.

The meme is simple: The economy is in a shambles because of Bush's economic policies and his war in Iraq. As American Thinker's Randall Hoven points out, that's the message being peddled by lefties as diverse as former Clinton political strategist James Carville, economist Joseph Stiglitz, and The Nation's Washington editor, Christopher Hayes.

Saturday, July 17

Are Political Consultants Stupid?

I was intrigued by a tweet today and it led me to a couple of articles about political consultants.

I am a political consultant. Please keep reading anyway. I consider myself one of the good guys though, and I'll tell you why. It's for the very reasons that political consultants were disparaged in these articles. To elaborate further, the points that Newt Gingrich made in the Washington Post are exactly right, and our firm does the opposite of what Newt wrote about.

GPH Consulting is made up of people who grew up in the activist side of politics, some of us are still precinct chairs at the grassroots level. We believe in building the conservative movement, through the Republican party, in every race that we are involved in. We look for candidates willing to work their communities and go door to door to deliver their message, because only when we talk with everyone will we all win. We know our history, we have conservative principles and we try to elect good, competent people to office each year. We're not marketers turned political consultants who view a man (or woman) in a suit as a product we're trying to push with a couple of soundbites. We believe in more than just direct mail and tv ads. We believe in the conservative cause.

We are and have been supportive of groups like and Latino National Republican Coalition, groups going into communities that our party will traditionally write off and engaging voters who rarely if ever hear from Republican candidates.

I feel that no race, no district anywhere, should be seen as "off the table". When we cede ground to the opposition, the voters lose by not having a real choice, and eventually we all lose by having unchecked representation that can run wild in the halls of power.

Matt Lewis did a nice summation of what Newt said, and he also went back as far as 2007 to show that Newt was saying these things about consultants back then. In some of Newt's 2008 and 2009 speeches he would also make similar comments about political consultants. Melissa Clouthier also followed up with some insights. I appreciate that Matt and Melissa both used identifiers like "most" and "many" rather than "all" or "every", so I did not take offense to what either of them said.

I posted this blog back in April trying to warn our side not to give up ground so early in 2010, to keep fighting, to keep engaging, because we have the opportunity before us to build a long term movement based on freedom and prosperity. Just assuming we're going to win and assuming we have enough districts to have a majority is not enough. Let's make sure we're building our databases of emails and voter interests so that when 2012 comes around, we can be on better footing with the Obama machine than we were in 2008.

I would say to Matt and Melissa both; I understand your concerns and what you're saying, but rest assured that there is at least one consulting firm out here doing right by our cause. You may recall, just two weekends ago, I was with both of you at the AFP Summit in Austin, how many other consultants did you count in that crowd?

Sunday, July 4

July 4th, 2010

I wanted to take a minute to post some thoughts for the 4th of July. Rather than try to re-create anything new, I thought I would link to a couple of items from the last year that are worth re-posting.

Thoughts on the 4th of July

All Honor to Jefferson

I spent Friday and Saturday of this July 4th weekend in Austin at the Americans For Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit. We heard many inspiring speakers and learned many interesting tactics for promoting liberty and defending America. I don't know how many people actually attended the Summit, but the number of people that actually were there was quite impressive. All of these people could have been doing any number of other things, but we were all in a hotel in Austin sharpening our minds and honing our skills. It's great to live in America.

Happy July 4th.

Thursday, July 1

Presidential Names For 2012, My Own Speculation

There's a lot of talk about the 2012 campaigns. It's early yes, and as much as I hate the early speculation before we're even at the November 2010 elections, allow me to join in the early speculation and go against my own preferences.

Here are my top contenders, in no particular order:

Congressman Paul Ryan - He has said he won't run and he states that his young children are the reason why. I see no reason not to take him at his word, but it doesn't mean I can't hope he'll run (and there's no reason he couldn't be a contender in 2016 and 2020). Congressman Ryan is pure and simply one of our movement's best idea generators. Ryan created the Roadmap For America's Future, a solid plan which is exactly counter to everything Barrack Hussein Obama has offered in his first 20 months in office. Ryan's congressional website is one of the better house websites around. Recently Ryan delivered the Republicans weekly address. One of my favorite lines from that address: "Let’s make the tough, forward-looking choices that will restore the promise and prosperity of this exceptional nation".

Herman Cain - I personally met Herman Cain in Georgia in 2004 when he was running for United State Senate. What a dynamic and captivating individual. Cain has maintained a public presence in recent years and I think he could be building his national name ID slowly but surely. He hosts a daily radio show on WSB in Atlanta, he writes and he speaks, traveling the country this summer with Americans For Prosperity speaking at the conferences in various states. Cain has a great personal story, growing up the son of a car driver who drove around wealthy business men, then later leading the resurgence of Godfather's Pizza chain.

Governor Mitch Daniels - Governor Daniels was recently told by Newt Gingrich to lead the media to believe he hasn't ruled out a run for President, that they would take him more seriously and give him more national coverage. So, I admit to not being sure what to make of the Governor's words and actions. Either way, Daniels has been an innovator and a real leader in Indiana. Earlier this year, George Will penned a column where he played out a scene in a future President Daniels administration. Mark McKinnon also weighed in with his thoughts on a Daniels candidacy.

Governor Chris Christie - The new Governor of New Jersey is making many friends in conservative circles online. Some of Governor Christie's speeches have been blunt and to the point. He has taken on the media. He visited with citizens at a Town Hall, and his speech became known as the "Day of Reckoning". He even told a teacher who was complaining about teacher pay that she didn't have to teach, this speech also generated a great line when the Governor said "unlike the United States of America, the state of New Jersey can't print money" with regard to people unhappy with certain budget cuts. Pragmatism at its finest. Not sure America is ready for that.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich - For the record, I don't think Newt will run. I think he will lead people to think he is so that he is taken seriously as he proposes ideas, gives speeches and writes books, employing the strategy he suggested to Mitch Daniels above. Newt's work at American Solutions stands online in the depth and ideas he offers. A recent speech Newt delivered in Detroit could have been seen as a launching pad for anyone else in any given year, but for Newt it was business as usual: Ideas, ideas, ideas.

Liz Cheney - For those not familiar with the former Vice Presidents daughter and her qualifications, a brief bio will enlighten you. Liz Cheney has been a frequent and effective critic of the Obama Regime. Last year, Liz Cheney gave Anderson Cooper an education on CNN when he showed up less than prepared. A google search will reveal any number of great links to Cheney's writing and tv appearances. Cheney's group, Keep America Safe, released an ad earlier this year about Eric Holder and the DOJ. Cheney took some flack, but Erick Erickson at Red State came to her defense, here you can see both the ad and Erickson's response. Finally, in March of this year, Newsweek weighed in on Cheney at 2012. We'll have to wait and see.

I recently heard someone say they were sick and tired of Governors and Senators always being our candidates for President. I can see the sentiment there. I won't work my way down a list and automatically eliminate anyone who is or has been a Governor or Senator, but based on my list, Paul Ryan, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Liz Cheney would be good possibilities. I would also argue at this point that Governors Daniels and Christie are not typical of Governors past. Daniels has led Indiana during difficult times, he has made tough decisions and he has done some great things for the state through his leadership. Christie was elected, took office and has begun to act in the age of Obama, in times of extreme difficulty for America and for New Jersey, and for a Republican in New Jersey.

So that's my two cents, I am open to hearing what you think. Much like Obama was a no one in 2004 and got elected President 4 years later, is it possible we have no idea who the people are who will be our candidate(s) in 2016 and 2020?

Sunday, June 6

Is This Banking In 2010?

I just saw a Wells Fargo commercial that made me think. I've only seen it one time, so there might be some misinterpretation and some incorrect paraphrasing, but I'm pretty sure I heard what I heard.

There is a guy and his girlfriend in their home, and the guy wants to restore an old motorcycle from his dad. He says something like "It's my dream to restore it", the girlfriend says, "It's my dream for him to finish it". Ok, her line was pretty funny, it made me laugh. Based on the visuals, it looks like the motorcycle is in their house/apartment, so it's certainly an eyesore and an obstacle, for her, us guys can work our way around such arrangements.

Then the banker at Wells Fargo chimes in. She says she showed this guy how to save money to be able to invest in restoring this motorcycle. The guy then comes back and says something like "they take some of my money and set it aside for me". Uh, wait, what?

I'm not sure which is more pitiful; the bank advertising that as part of their services they will take your money and set it aside for you, or the fact that people can't somehow go to the bank and say "I'd like to open a savings account please". Most banks allow for online banking which would allow you to transfer whatever you'd like from your checking account to your savings account. One bank who's commercials I have seen, I want to say it's Bank of America, allows you to set up automatic transfers from checking to saving, so that once a week or once a month (you decide how often) the bank will transfer the money for you.

Ok, so what am I missing here? Fire away.

Wednesday, May 12

David Cameron becomes youngest Prime Minister in almost 200 years

David Cameron has become the youngest British Prime Minister in almost 200 years after Gordon Brown resigned as premier, bringing to an end 13 years of Labour rule.

Daily Telegraph story here.

Tuesday, May 11

Yes, Prime Minister

The events that took place today in London were nothing short of remarkable. If you were able to watch any of the proceedings during our 1pm-3pm hours (CST), you know what I'm talking about.

During that time, Gordon Brown resigned as Prime Minister, he then left 10 Downing Street to head to Buckingham Palace where he gave the Queen his resignation. Then, within minutes, David Cameron went to Buckingham Palace where the Queen asked him to form a government, he agreed, and with that a new Prime Minister made his way to Downing Street to get to work.

Upon arriving to 10 Downing Street, Cameron gave this speech, with no notes and no teleprompter.

The dynamics of the election last week and some of what led to the changes today, will be stuff of history. We'll be reading about it for years to come I'm sure. One of the people who had led Obama's campaign in 2008, Anita Dunn, was a key player in Cameron's campaign. It's no coincidence that "change" was part of the Conservative Party logo and message this year.

As I touched on before and will write more about later, the Cameron campaign was a conservative model that we should look at following parts of here in the United States going into 2010. From the "contract with young people", to their "contract for jobs", to their "quality of life manifesto", I think the Conservative Party put forth one positive proposal after another and they earned the trust of the people of Britain (yes there is a hung parliament, but the number of seats that changed hands was overwhelming).

One thing we must understand, and learn to live with, it that in those proposals, people may not have agreed with the Conservative Party 100% on each idea in each proposal. However, the party itself was bold enough to say "here is where we stand, where does the other side stand?". I think when you make the choices that clear, people will always follow the logical options and the ones based on the most common sense

Sunday, May 2

Conservative Offense Must Be Keeping Gordon Brown Awake At Night

As I reported yesterday, Conservative Party candidate for Prime Minister, David Cameron, introduced what is known as "A contract between the Conservative Party and you".

Obviously, I was impressed. Then, I woke up this morning to see that the Conservative Party has now introduced a "contract for jobs". In my opinion, this contract is full of common sense solutions. One of the highlights was this:
"introduce Work for Yourself, a new scheme to help unemployed would-be entrepreneurs start their own business by giving them access to a business mentor and start-up loans."
I happen to think this overall concept is great, it's something we should have been doing here since the beginning of the internet boom. I do wonder about the word "scheme" though. Maybe overseas that word carries a different connotation, but here, that word sounds under-handed and negative.

The election is four days away. The Conservatives are on serious offense right now. I almost can't wait until the 10pm and 11pm hours here in the States for the new articles to start hitting the British websites in their early morning hours. You have to assume Gordon Brown wants to respond, which would mean Cameron is controlling the debate. I suspect we'll have four more days of full throttle offense from Cameron and the Conservatives on their way to victory on Thursday.

Saturday, May 1

Britons Adopt "Contract" Theme

On Thursday afternoon I tuned it to watch the third and final Prime Minister debate from across the pond, you can watch the entire debate here. As mentioned here before, this is the first time these debates have ever been televised. One bit of irony for me was the way Gordon Brown mirrored Richard Nixon. Not necessarily the Richard Nixon from the first ever televised Presidential debates in 1960, but the later Nixon on the 1968 and 1972 campaigns. So the "television thing" is something we Americans could claim as our idea, now adopted by the Britons some 50 years later.

Now, the guy at the top of the ballot for the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has proposed a "contract" to 3.5 million independent voters. He went through many of the same rituals that Newt Gingrich and the Republicans did in 1994, such as signing a giant version of the contract in front of a crowd. The "contract" also includes a suggestion to the voters that if the promises are not met, they are to "vote us out" in five years.

A good report on this new development can be found here:
The contract sets out 16 different pledges – five to change politics, five to change the economy and six to change society.

They include controlling immigration, cutting the pay of Government ministers and raising standards in schools.

The two-page document – entitled “A contract between the Conservative Party and you” – is also used to rebuff Labour allegations that Mr Cameron is secretly planning to remove some benefits, including the winter fuel allowance and other state perks for pensioners.
The contract can be found here in full.

If you haven't paid attention to this process overseas, it's worth looking at because I think the Conservative Party is doing many things we would do well adopting here in the lead up to 2010 and 2012. In that final debate, in a somewhat heated moment where the candidates are actually afforded more dialogue than ours are afforded, there was this great comment spoken by David Cameron:
"But do I want to cut taxes on all businesses, particularly small businesses to get the economy moving? You're damn right I do."
If you go to the CSPAN feed of the debate and advance to 35:54, you'll see the comments in full. We don't hear candidates talk like that here.

We've heard the saying that "life mirrors art", well in this case, countries are mirroring countries through their political systems. With the expected results this week in Britain, where the Conservative Party is now poised to lead for the first time since 1997, we might do well to remember what worked and what didn't, and see if we can do some mirroring of our own. Elections like these, and the recent elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia show that when we intelligently and passionately take our message to the voters, we win elections.

Thursday, April 29

King: Election winner will be out of power for a generation

In my obsession with the British elections next week, the headline really jumped out at me.
“I saw the Governor of the Bank of England last week when I was in London and he told me whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be.”
The column continued:
However, leaving this inconsistencies aside, the comments do seem plausible: King has said repeatedly that the Government will need to impose far more ambitious cuts on the deficit than it currently plans. The comments ought to stand as a reminder that although the focus of the election has switched away to bigotgate, and the economic focus worldwide to the eurozone malaise, Britain faces a decade of hurt in the wake of its decade of debt.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies spelt it out earlier this week in typically frank terms. Labour and the LibDem plans imply the biggest squeeze on public services since the 1970s, when the IMF was in town. The Tory plans imply the biggest set of cuts since records began in 1948.
The Republican party faces the same danger in both 2010 and 2012. With Obama still in office and until he is out of office, there are going to be continual fractures to our system. Our side needs to be ready and be upfront about our solutions and our plans. I've written about 1992, 1994 and 1996 before. I will continue to say that we must be bold and we must be realistic. We must have a conversation with the American people.

The damage that Obama is inflicting, including the sense of entitlements, is not going to go away easily. Hard decisions are going to have to be made. If we start having the conversations now, we will not only prepare people for the realities of tough decisions and real life in what is America, but we will start to get people to understand, to work with us and to advocate on our behalf within their circles of influence.

As Ronald Reagan said in 1975: "Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pastels, but bold colors, which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?"

Let's start presenting our bold colors now. As I mentioned here before, Congressman Paul Ryan's Roadmap For America's Future is a great place to start. I love the British and I love watching Question Time. But, I don't want to be like our friends from across the pond in 2013 when a Republican President is sworn in to office.

Tim Aker for Aveley

My old friend from the Draft Newt '08 Campaign, is running for a local office next week just outside of London in a community called Aveley. Listen to him speak, then think about Newt Gingrich, and you'll understand why we worked so well together.

Tim has a great grasp on the concept that guided Draft Newt '08, "Ideas Today, Solutions Tomorrow". He is putting forth real plans, real solutions, and leaving it to the voters to decide. I wonder if we should do that in the states...

While I may not agree with the party Tim has aligned himself with, when the Conservative party seems to be headed in the right direction, one source said that Tim is bringing the UKIP party back to the mainstream, he has been called "the future of his party" and he has given it "added credibility".

Keep up the good work Tim, win or lose, you've done great good for our cause. After the election, let's have a virtual drink at the bar, the Newcastle Brown Ale is on me.

Wednesday, April 28

British Prime Minster Election

I'm ready to call next week's Prime Minister election in favor of Conservative party candidate David Cameron. Prime Minister Brown's recent gaffe, is such a clear example of the difference in political systems between the U.S. and Britain. While it used to be true that "what happens in Europe eventually happens here", the Prime Minister candidates are having live television debates this year, for the FIRST time ever. Something we started doing here in 1960 with the infamous Kennedy vs. Nixon debate.

There had been quite a bit of speculation about a hung Parliament, but the gaffe by the guy at the top of the ballot, may influence enough independents to empower the Conservative party.

I'll have more later on about the impact of the Conservative party on the national elections in Britain. I think the party has done many things right. David Cameron presented what became known as a "Green Manifesto", which addressed environmental issues from a more sensible, rational point of view. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 21

Righting the Ship

Recent headlines like these, do not inspire me:

Obama backers show signs of disappointment

Obama Gets No Health Care Bounce

Democrats’ Long-Held Seats Face G.O.P. Threat

I myself file these headlines under the "I'll believe it when I see it" banner. The main reason for this: Do we really trust the media to tell us the truth? Isn't it possible the media is playing us, trying to trick us into believing our own desires?

Even if you want to buy into the headlines, this is no time to get over confident.

We can't go into November with the mindset that "all signs point in our direction". We must be different and we must be bold. We must campaign on our ideas and solutions. Just saying "vote for us, we're not Obama", does not build our movement in the long term. While we could squeak through an election cycle victorious, if we elect candidates to go and feed the perception of the "party of no", we will still be on our heels headed into 2012.

A lot can happen between now and November. There are national holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day), Mother's Day and Father's Day, and a long summer when people will stop paying attention as they go on vacations. If Obama starts to show signs of recovery, let's make sure we have a campaign plan that shows we have our own ideas for the direction of our country and that we have candidates willing and able to implement those ideas once elected.

Recently, I saw someone post these comments on Twitter, I was glad to see I am not alone. This person has a lot to say, obviously limited by Twitter's 140 characters per post:
"Ask yourself this question: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS DAVID AXELROD AND WHY IS HE SO QUIET? He's prepping for 2012, AWAY from social media #tcot"

"So get your bums off the chairs, sofas and Starbucks chairs, meet your neighbors, your colleagues and tell them the truth about today #tcot"

"FB, tweeting and blogging can only go this far .. while the Left is out there, canvassing OUR neighborhoods, we're all... HERE... #tcot"

"So if on November 3, 2010 you ask yourselves "What happened?", just look in the mirror and return to tweeting the same question! #tcot"

"So remember, you're here or on FB or WordPress or blogger.. Organizing for America is on OUR streets .. WAKE THE HECK UP! #tcot"
I think there is some truth to what this person was saying. Before we start patting each other on the back for what should or could be a great 2010 election, there is work to do.

If we squeak by and win in 2010 on the "we're not Obama" message, what have we really gained in the future? Think back to the great year of 1994. That year was sandwiched in between 1992 and 1996, years Clinton was elected and re-elected.

I agree with the Twitter poster, the Left is not sitting back waiting to take our best shot to see if they can survive. While they may not be confident going into November, they are still doing the work they need to do. They also had a much better head start in organizing on the heels of 2008 where they collected untold numbers of email addresses and cell numbers for texting. Even if the Left loses in 2010, they are building for 2012.

Let's work so we don't peak in April, when the election is in November.

Friday, March 26

Fix Health Reform, Then Repeal It: The Batteplan For Republicans in 2010

Paul Ryan, one our sides idea machines, has a great op-ed in today's state run NY Times, how the editors at the state run Times let this one slip by is beyond me.
"To be clear: it is not sufficient for those of us in the opposition to await a reversal of political fortune months or years from now before we advance action on health care reform. Costs will continue their ascent as the debt burden squeezes life out of our economy. We are unapologetic advocates for the repeal of this costly misstep. But Republicans must also make the case for a reform agenda to take its place, and get to work on that effort now."
The Obama Regime, perennial campaigners, are hitting the streets trying to tell people that they really wanted this bill, before they were all against it. Polling numbers show that great majorities don't want this plan, but that isn't good enough for the White House Campaign Team. Our side must continue to advocate solid ideas, good alternatives and we must continue the conversation with America, in true Reagan style. Congressman Ryan makes that point in the next section.
"Washington already has no idea on how to pay for its current entitlement programs, as we find ourselves $76 trillion in the hole. Our country cannot afford to avoid a serious conversation on entitlement reform. By taking action now, we can make certain that our entitlement programs are kept whole for those in and near retirement, while devising sustainable health and retirement security for future generations."
Paul Ryan then makes the following point:
"As the dust settles from this historic and fiscally calamitous week, we have to try to steer this country back in the right direction. The opposition must always speak with vigor and candor on the need for wholesale repeal and for real reform to fix what’s broken in health care."
Again, the fight starts yesterday, but it's not enough to just say "vote 'em out in November", there is work to be done before then. We need candidates committed to our causes and principles. In states where filing for office has not yet begun, we still have time to shape our ballots there. But, in the meantime, let's continue to be civil and let's continue to make sure we're talking with America and not at America.

Saturday, March 6

Messaging Memo: Reforming Education

Commit yourself to these words as you debate education reform going forward:

School Choice = Parental Choice In Education

Vouchers = Opportunity Scholarships

So, we're going to start saying we favor Parental Choice in Education and we would give parents Opportunity Scholarships to make that happen.

Got it?



Wednesday, February 17

Peter, Paul and Barry: A Contrast in Economic Policy Visions

Interesting column about Paul Ryan and the Republicans.
"Over the past week, the White House began trying something new: changing the subject from their own proposals to those of Congressional Republicans. This is a marked departure from the past several months, during which the White House alleged repeatedly – and wrongly – that Republicans were obstructing necessary legislation with no alternatives of their own. But now, the White House has decided it is time to acknowledge that Republicans have been offering ideas – and to attack them."
Understandable, the democrats' plans don't do anything to promote freedom or prosperity, and rather than talk about their own horrible, constricting, unfounded policies, they've decided to attack those with real ideas.
"The contest between the Ryan and Orszag visions for Social Security is the fundamental contest between constraining our spending appetites and raising taxes to fuel persistently higher costs."
Perfect quote. Code words for Conservative vs. Liberal. People vs. Bureaucracy. Freedom vs. Constraint.

Tuesday, February 9

Congressman Paul Ryan Making Waves With Roadmap

GOP Rep. Paul Ryan tackles Obama's path to deficit disaster

By Michael Gerson
The Washington Post

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The new era of Democratic bipartisanship, like cut flowers in a vase, wilted in less than a week.

During his question time at the House Republican retreat, President Obama elevated congressman and budget expert Paul Ryan as a "sincere guy" whose budget blueprint -- which, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), eventually achieves a balanced budget -- has "some ideas in there that I would agree with." Days later, Democratic legislators held a conference call to lambaste Ryan's plan as a vicious, voucherizing, privatizing assault on Social Security, Medicare and every non-millionaire American. Progressive advocacy groups and liberal bloggers joined the jeering in practiced harmony.

The attack "came out of the Democratic National Committee, and that is the White House," Ryan told me recently, sounding both disappointed and unsurprised. On the deficit, Obama's outreach to Republicans has been a ploy, which is to say, a deception. Once again, a president so impressed by his own idealism has become the nation's main manufacturer of public cynicism.

To Ryan, the motivations of Democratic leaders are transparent. "They had an ugly week of budget news. They are precipitating a debt crisis, with deficits that get up to 85 percent of GDP and never get to a sustainable level. They are flirting with economic disaster." So they are attempting some "misdirection," calling attention to Ryan's recently updated budget road map (click here for Roadmap 2.0) -- first unveiled two years ago (click here for the 2008 Roadmap) -- which proposes difficult entitlement reforms. When all else fails, change the subject to Republican heartlessness.

From a political perspective, Democratic leaders are right to single out Ryan for unkind attention. He is among their greatest long-term threats. He possesses the appeal of a young Jack Kemp (for whom both Ryan and I once worked). Like Kemp, Ryan is aggressively likable, crackling with ideas and shockingly sincere.

But unlike Kemp -- who didn't give a rip for deficits, being focused exclusively on economic growth -- Ryan is the cheerful prophet of deficit doom. "For the first generation of supply-siders," he explains, "the fiscal balance sheet was not as bad. The second generation of supply-siders needs to be just as concerned about debt and deficits. They are the greatest threats to economic growth today."

Fiscal Obamaism is not just a temporary, Keynesian, countercyclical spike in spending; it is deficits to infinity and beyond. "It is the interest that kills you," Ryan says. In a few weeks, he expects the CBO to report that, in the 10th year of Obama's budget, the federal government will "spend nearly a trillion dollars a year, just on interest! This traps us as a country. Inflation will wipe out savings and hurt people on fixed incomes. A plunging dollar will make goods more expensive. High tax rates will undermine economic growth. It is the path of national decline."

But unlike other deficit hawks, Ryan courageously -- some would say foolhardily -- presents his own alternative. His budget road map offers many proposals, but one big vision. Over time, Ryan concentrates government spending on the poor through means-tested programs, patching holes in the safety net while making entitlements more sustainable. He saves money by providing the middle class with defined-contribution benefits -- private retirement accounts and health vouchers -- that are more portable but less generous in the long run. And he expects a growing economy, liberated from debt and inflation, to provide more real gains for middle-class citizens than they lose from lower government benefits. Ryanism is not only a technical solution to endless deficits; it represents an alternative political philosophy.

For decades, culminating in the Obama health reform proposal, Democrats have attempted to build a political constituency for the welfare state by expanding its provisions to larger and larger portions of the middle class. Ryan proposes a federal system that focuses on helping the poor, while encouraging the middle class to take more personal responsibility in a dynamic economy. It is the appeal of security vs. the appeal of independence and enterprise.

Both sides of this debate make serious arguments, rooted in differing visions of justice and freedom. But the advocates of security, including Obama, have a serious problem: They are on a path to economic ruin.

In his Kemp-like way, Ryan manages to find a bright side. "The way I look at it, we were sleepwalking down this path anyway. The Democratic overreach woke people up. It was a splash of cold water in the face of every voter. Now we have a new, more serious conversation. And I'm not going to back down."

Saturday, February 6

The WSJ This Weekend

Opening up the Weekend Edition of the WSJ today was quite an experience. There were many great articles. I will highlight a few here.

For GOP, No Experience Is No Problem: link

Peggy Noonan: Question Time Isn't The Answer: link

Interesting proposals here. Noonan is right, this won't happen here, but something that creates a better dialog is needed.

This might tend to produce fewer omnibus bills. "You expect me to know and talk about what's in that? It's 2,000 pages! Cut it down to 20 and give it a new name."

Opinions Split on Job Creation: link

Pat Moynihan's Tax Lessons for the States: link

If you've ever read and appreciated Moynihan's late 60's book Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding, you'll appreciate this artlce.

'A Wasted Opportunity'
WellPoint's CEO on ObamaCare's mistakes and how to pick up the political pieces.: link

It's hard to see how WellPoint could be to blame for surging health spending, Mrs. Braly says, when 85 cents out of every premium dollar or more "is paid out in the actual cost of care, doctors, hospitals, suppliers, drugs, devices." Confiscating the 2009 profits of the entire insurance industry would pay for two days of U.S. health care.

FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith: One Simple Way To Create Jobs: link

Wednesday, January 27

Saturday, January 9

Reagan Revolution Essay Contest

Recently, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), posted a challenge on their Facebook page, an essay contest. The objective:
Write an essay describing your thoughts about the future of the conservative/libertarian movement. Is the Reagan revolution over? If so, with the end of the Reagan revolution, where do we go now? Over the past 30 years, the conservative movement has elected presidents and majorities in both houses of congress, but we have seen an unprecedented growth in government spending, increased abortions rights, gun laws, and liberalization of all social issues. What is the solution for 2010 and beyond? Your essay should not exceed 500 words.
For the fun of it (yes, I find this fun), I wrote just shy of 500 words with my thoughts. I am posting my essay below.

Recently, I completed Craig Shirley's mammoth work on Reagan's 1980 campaign, Rendezvous With Destiny. The book contains over 600 pages of writing, and it's well over 700 pages when you include bibliography and resource notes. I think trying to sum up anything regarding Ronald Reagan and the Revolution he started in as few as 500 words is completely impossible. All one can do is try to get close by summing up key themes, key ideas. I tried to do this with my writing. I'm interested in your thoughts.


The Reagan Revolution is NOT over. The premise of the first part of the question is correct, there was and is an ongoing Revolution started by Reagan, and it has yet to end or be completed.

In 1980, Reagan campaigned on a simple theme, boiled down to five words: Family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom. In those five words laid the promise of a great nation and the core of what makes her people tick.

The heirs of the Revolution stopped talking WITH America and instead started speaking AT America. We live in the Web 2.0 world, where conversations take place and the flow of information is up and down, left and right. We no longer live in the world where being talked AT is the way to share with people the greatness of America.

Our side must get back to the Reagan model. Go back and study Reagan. Reagan believed what he said, he genuinely loved America and he believed in her people. His background in radio and movies helped him communicate, it was easy for him to stand in front of the American people and tell them what he was seeing and what he thought about it. Reagan was not born “The Great Communicator”, Reagan evolved into that role.

We need statesmen today who believe in the American people and who can communicate policies that assist the American people in achieving the American dream, rather than policies that hinder the people’s ability to achieve greatness. To move forward in 2010 and beyond, we must have an entire movement, not just one leader, but an entire movement that will look to those five words: Family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom. That movement must focus on these ideals, going back to Reagan’s axiom when he called us a “community of shared values”.

When our movement has elected presidents or both houses of congress, we have become too timid, too afraid to over step for fear of angering the American people. Instead, if we were following the Reagan model, we would never stop talking with the American people, and the support of the people would be enough to achieve the successes we want based on the principles that unite us as Americans. We must talk in positive ways about the things that matter most to the American people.

The Reagan Revolution is not over. Those that will rise to the challenge will carry the mantle forward and continue the Revolution that Reagan started. There was a reason why the Revolution began, there was a need for it, there was a place in the heart of the American people for such an occurrence. That place in the heart of America is still there. We can get back to it with courage and resilience to do what is right, and with focus on those five words: Family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom. Let’s continue the Reagan Revolution, and as Reagan once did, let’s have a “conversation with America” again.